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Students get hands-on at FGCU's Marine Science Camp

Students get hands-on at FGCU's Marine Science Camp
Posted at 9:31 AM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 09:40:53-04

Middle schoolers in Bonita Springs took a deep dive into better understanding our local waterways while attending Florida Gulf Coast University's summer camp.

The Marine Science Camp helped campers immerse themselves in nature while answering tough questions and conducting different field experiments each day.

Camp Counselor Abby Brown said this specific lesson focused on local ecology and explained how the campers would have to work together using something called a seine net.

"The students will march with poles slowly over time and pull them quickly together," said Brown.

Next, the students flipped the net over to examine the different organisms they collected in the net.

Mateo Pinzon, who is going into 8th grade in the fall, said these lessons have been helpful since he might want to be a marine biologist someday.

“We’ve learned stuff about biodiversity, the richness, and abundance of the species, but we’ve also learned about smaller microorganisms like plankton," he explained.

It’s an experience Benjamin Van’t Hoff, who moved here from England, said is special because of our unique location.

“There were some seahorses which we had to put back because they’re pretty fragile," he said.

All of the critters collected during the field experiment were taken back to the wet lab at the university's Vester Station.

Camp counselor Emily Hendershot explained the students were divided into teams, and the critters were placed into the teams' various fish tanks. This will help the students monitor how different species impact water quality by the time their camp wraps up at the end of the week.

Hendershot said this annual camp is about more than entertaining the kids of the summer. She explained it about passing along her lifelong appreciation for our wildlife.

“We were snorkeling they pull up a giant lightning whelk," said Hendershot as she recalled her favorite camp memory so far. And I’m excited because I know what this and the kids will love it and we’re all passing it around. It’s that physical experience of you found the conch, you held it, and you remember that for the future.”